Republicans offer details on environmental proposals after Democrats roll out plan

Republicans offer details on environmental proposals after Democrats roll out plan
© Greg Nash

House Republicans offered new details about their plans for environmental legislation after Democrats rolled out their own sweeping proposal last week, though leadership said the move was not a response to the Democrats plan.

At a Thursday morning meeting first reported by The Hill, lawmakers pitched their colleagues on a variety of approaches that could be incorporated into the eventual package. 

House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenGOP lawmaker: US will see improvement on virus 'in a couple of weeks' Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing CARES Act delivers on our health care needs in a big way MORE (R-Ore.) told The Hill that the proposals would build upon a legislative package already endorsed by the minority, ranging from “forestry ideas” to investing in new research and planting trees.

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“This really I think sets the stage for our involvement not only in climate but other environmental related issues,” he said. 

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis ranking member Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesOvernight Energy: Murkowski fumes over stalled energy bill | White House weighs help for oil, gas industry | Dem presses top Trump official on rollback of safety regulations Democrat presses top Trump official on rollback of safety regulations despite alleged staff objections Overnight Energy: Green groups to sue over Trump rollback of Obama water rules | GOP climate plan faces pushback from right | Bezos launches B climate initiative MORE (R-La.) told The Hill that at the meeting, Republicans discussed a mix of both old and new bills. 

He said that a package, which could be released in the coming months, could include investing in research and development as well as efforts to make communities more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Thursday’s meeting follows the announcement of a broad package being developed by Democrats that requires 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, a mandate that includes a clean energy credit trading system. The transportation sector would also have to be emissions free by 2050 through increasingly tight vehicle standards. 

Buildings and industry would also be required to use materials from more eco-friendly sources and meet stricter building codes under the Democratic plan. 

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The Republican effort is being led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyLysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House Trump signs T coronavirus relief package Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing MORE (R-Calif.), whose office stressed in a Wednesday email to The Hill that it was not a response to the Democrats’ proposal

"This is a policy conference to discuss how conservative solutions have been the greatest driver of emissions reductions in the world and how these principles are the road map for a cleaner environment here at home and around the globe," McCarthy spokesman Matt Sparks said by email. 

Graves told The Hill that at the meeting, GOP lawmakers also talked about “concerns related to some of the proposals that have been proffered on climate” by Democrats. He cited economic factors and possible reliance on foreign fuels. 

Environmental advocates, however, criticized the Republican conference based on the party’s past record on the issues.

"Let's get real: Congressional Republicans and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE just blocked a package of clean energy tax credits from being included in the year-end tax and budget deal,” Sierra Club global climate policy director John Coequyt said in a statement. 

“That was a serious and limited solution they failed to support, but they are suddenly serious a few weeks later after decades of climate denial,” Coequyt added. 

Rebecca Beitsch contributed.